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LATEST REVIEWS
HUNGER GAMES, THE: MOCKINGJAY, PART 1
"A franchise taking flight"
4 stars
Daniel Kelly says... "It worked for Harry Potter and Twilight, so why not the continuing adventures of Katniss Everdeen? I'm of course alluding to the “Part 1” disclaimer that follows the title of the latest “Hunger Games” outing “Mockingjay”. It's become the done thing that the defining chapter in any popular adaptation should be divided into two, maybe to accommodate purists clamouring for unblemished reverence, but more likely as a means to ensure everybody involved makes an extra buck; except for the audience. By slicing the material with such obvious capitalist intent, movies suffering the symptom incur innate wrath from the consumer, decreasing their odds of making a favourable impression. Nobody likes to feel ripped-off, and this new Hollywood tactic carries a definite whiff of wheeler-dealer salesmanship. It's with some pleasure then that “Mockingjay: Part 1” actually provides a fulfilling cinematic experience, a slower feature than its immediate predecessor (and one would assume next year's continuation), but filled with intelligent ideas and action beats, that whilst sparse, form very real stakes. The political underbelly of author Suzanne Collin's universe is finally bearing narrative fruit, leading to a sobering but intense extension of her dystopian myth." (more)
GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE
"Much visual language, little narrative."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "My second impulse where Jean-Luc Godard's "Goodbye to Language" is concerned is to write nothing at all about it. That's in large part because my first is to cry that the emperor has no clothes, but I think I've got just enough awareness of what I know and what he's done that recognize that I'm in no position to make such a sweeping accusation. Still, he's made a film that seems to offer very little to those who do not look at cinema as a primarily academic pursuit." (more)
MEA CULPA
"Unapologetically good action."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "A couple years ago, French director Fred Cavayé garnered some attention from international action-movie fans with "Point Blank", a fast-paced thriller that didn't break any new ground but did everything better than expected, adding up to a great little movie. His follow-up "Mea Culpa" is along the same lines - basic story, impressive action, a satisfying hour and a half." (more)
HOMESMAN, THE
"And You Thought "A Million Way To Die In The Old West" Was Depressing. . ."
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Yes, "The Homesman," the second directorial effort from beloved actor/sourpuss emeritus Tommy Lee Jones, is a western but do not be fooled for a second by the mistaken belief that this is a film filled with either the usual excitement and heroics of the classics of the genre or the more ambiguous takes of the revisionist efforts that took their place as the genre as a whole was fading from popularity in the 1970's. This is, in fact, one of the bleakest and most despairing films of any sort to hit theaters this year and while this is not necessarily a problem per se, it is so painful and wounding to observe that even those with a fondness for darker narratives may be surprised by just how grim things get. Put it this way--Jones' previous directorial effort, "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" was a modern-day western involving digging up a corpse and carrying it across the border into Mexico for a proper burial and that was a breezy walk through the park when compared to this one." (more)
HUNGER GAMES, THE: MOCKINGJAY, PART 1
"Revolution Blues"
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Under normal circumstances, it would be so easy to be annoyed with the very existence of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1." For starters, it is yet another adaptation of a YA best-seller positing a future dystopia featuring good-looking youngsters who discover that they have the power to change things forever and female elders who appear to have been issued Edgar Winter's hair. More specifically, it is the third film in the "Hunger Games" franchise to appear in as many years and that rate of output can get a little tiresome after a while. It stars Jennifer Lawrence and as delightful as she can be, her ubiquitous presence at the multiplex, award shows and Internet hacking scandals is almost at the point where some form of backlash is almost inevitable. Then there is the fact that, following in the hallowed footsteps of the last entries in the "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" sagas, the final books have been split into two parts in order to give their sprawling narratives room to breathe and, more importantly, inspire audiences to essentially pay two separate admissions to see one complete story. And yet, despite the over-exposure and over-familiarity of the material and its participants, "Mockingjay, Part 1" is a real movie and not simply an excuse for its producers to print money. This is smart and ambitious filmmaking that contains so many good and surprising things, even at this stage of the game, that most viewers will not only easily forgive its occasional hiccups but wonder why other films of this sort don't even attempt to hit the heights that this one does." (more)
PURGE, THE: ANARCHY
"Noam Chomsky horror."
2 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "The disappointing thing about the "Purge" movies is that the marketing makes them look spookier and more radical than they turn out to be." (more)
RAID 2, THE
"Praised for being a competent action movie."
3 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "2011’s "The Raid: Redemption," which delighted fanboys the world over, was a simple siege film with some of the most elaborately brutal martial-arts sequences seen in years." (more)
FAULT IN OUR STARS, THE
"A button-masher."
3 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "Every young generation deserves its own great love story. But does "The Fault in Our Stars" qualify?" (more)
DUMB AND DUMBER TO
"Just when you thought they couldn't possibly be any dumber..."
2 stars
Brett Gallman says... "“Dumb and Dumber To” feels like a cruel joke not unlike the one Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) springs on buddy Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) at the beginning of this belated sequel. When we catch up with the dimwitted duo, we learn that Lloyd’s been faking catatonia for the past twenty years as a gag, which is met with great enthusiasm from his friend, who still can’t help but point out that the ruse robbed Lloyd of his prime years. You can’t help but feel the same about the gang behind this film—they really waited two decades to unleash this?" (more)
SPACE MUTINY
"OK, seriously, what did you expect?"
2 stars
Jaycie says... "It's a space movie set in the cheesiest decade of filmmaking in anyone's memory, made famous entirely by Mystery Science Theater 3000, starring actors you've never heard of, directed by a man whose greatest achievement is the Audience Award for Best Picture at the Bangkok Film Festival for the Gary Busey-helmed Welcome 2 Ibiza. Therefore, it is impossible for me to review this on the basis of genuine quality. Instead, I shall review it on its merits as a favorite of crap aficionados everywhere. And as such, it is glorious. Almost." (more)

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